Enrollment has dropped in Olympia schools

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As the Olympia School Board looks towards the next school year, Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Priddy reported at the board meeting yesterday that local schools have experienced low enrollments.

Some elementary schools reported that their enrollments dropped by as much as 15.6 percent -- at McKenny. Madison declined by 14.7 percent, Pioneer with 13.2, Olympia Regional Learning Academy Montessori (ORLA M) with 13.2 percent, and Garfield with 12.6 percent.

Other schools, including Boston Harbor, Centennial, Lincoln, L.P Brown, and Hansen's enrollments dropped by less than 10 percent. Among all the elementary schools, only Roosevelt saw an increase in enrollment:by 0.5 percent.

On the other hand, Jefferson High School saw a 4.4 percent increase in its enrollment, , while ORLA Middle School Academy is up by 15 percent.

The school board has yet to determine the reasons behind declining enrollments.

School district budgets are based on the number of students enrolled. If there are fewer students, there will be less money overall.

For the upcoming school year, the school board prioritizes additional math and literacy support for elementary students as well as providing additional classrooms and staffing, if budgets will enable. In addition, the board focuses on giving academic support for middle school and high school students through enhanced after-school tutoring.

For its re-opening program, the OSB gave out its plan for its major investments. These investments include nursing support, transportation for after-school academic tutoring, online tutoring, and bilingual parent support.

The OSB also plans to allocate more teachers to high-poverty schools such as Garfield, LP Brown, and Hansen. Priddy believed that having more teacher time can have a positive impact on student’s learning. Thus, the school board shared their plan to allocate more resources to hire teachers.

The additional staff also includes physical education, arts and music teachers. Aside from staffing concerns, Priddy also shared that schools struggle to provide adequate space as a result of social distancing guidelines. She suggested that schools can utilize their libraries on rotation as an alternative as temporary classrooms.

Overall, the board members said they want to provide more extracurricular activities and well-being support to help students recover and heal from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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